Lost and Found Again
Scellea woke up in the middle of the forest. There was a Kacheek farmer standing over her with a pitchfork in his paw and a very angry look on his face.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he said. “You can’t just sleep wherever you want. This is my property!”
She tried to speak but found her beak was full of leaves. She spat it out. “Sorry—” she began.
“Oh, just get out of here,” said the farmer. “Kids these days!”
So she got out. She did not know where she was. Her wings, thankfully, still worked, and after she’d flown up a little distance, she could see that she was just outside the walls of Altador; she’d crashed into some Altadorian farm. But—
She flew into the city, landed near one of the reflecting pools, and stared at herself. She was a Faerie Eyrie, a little dusty, with a few leaves still stuck in her feathers. She remembered her name but nothing else about herself, even where she’d come from. She had nothing to her name.
“It looks like I’m here for now,” she said to herself. Even the short flight from the farm to the city had exhausted her, and she suspected that one of her wings was sprained. She was hungry, too. She walked instead of flying to Exquisite Ambrosia, where the cheerful Skeith shopkeeper stood selling mountains of bread and grapes and fresh cheese.
“What do you mean, you don’t have any money?” he said to her.
“I don’t know where I am,” she said.
“You’re in Altador,” said the Skeith.
“I don’t know who I am,” she said.
“Look,” said the Skeith, “we’re all trying to make an honest living here. I can’t just give away food to everyone with a sob story.”
She walked away and hid in the alleyway behind the shop, trying to think of a plan. She didn’t particularly want to steal. She wasn’t even sure if she was able. But she was so hungry.
“This has got to be some sort of bad dream,” she whispered.
That was when she saw the Hydruplit at the other end of the alley.
It was a tiny brown-and-yellow three-headed creature. One of its heads spit out a small puff of smoke. The other regarded her curiously. The third held a block of Altadorian Sun Cheese.
“I don’t suppose you’d share?” said Scellea.
The Hydruplit hissed. Then, with one of its heads, it broke off a ray of sun. * * *
Of course, Scellea didn’t rely on the Hydruplit to bring her all her meals. She got some odd jobs helping with janitorial work in the Hall of Heroes and sorting through the heaps of papers in the Altadorian Archives. They paid the food bills, and although she couldn’t find a house, the weather was good and she could often sleep comfortably while perched in a tree.
The Hydruplit stayed with her, too. When she she wasn’t working or sleeping, she’d talk to it, even though she was sure it couldn’t understand her.
“All I know about myself is that I fell from the sky,” she said. “That’s not a lot of information.”
The Hydruplit hissed.
“I’d go home if I knew where it was,” she said. “I’d be able to fly anywhere now, since my wing’s better and all. But where?”
The Hydruplit hissed again, more fiercely this time.
“Well, I’d bring you with me, if you want.”
The Hydruplit made a little noise that sounded almost like a purr.
A few weeks later, she remembered something else.* * *
In the archives one day, Scellea saw a map of Faerieland, beautifully hand-drawn with all the clouds correctly labeled. Something stirred in the back of her mind. She knew that she had been to Faerieland before. She had seen it, just like this.
But the map was labeled, “Faerieland before its fall.”
“What does this mean?” she said to Finneus, the archivist. “What was Faerieland’s ‘fall’?”
“What? It tumbled right out of the sky!” he said. “Goodness, that was years ago. Where have you been?”
“Years ago?” she said, growing even more worried now. “What year is it?”
Scellea did not remember much, but she knew for sure that the last time she’d ever read a calendar, it had been Year Twelve.
“I have to go,” she said.
She left the archives in a hurry, although she wasn’t running in any particular direction; she just had to run. There were three things that she knew: She’d been to Faerieland before it had fallen. Then Faerieland had fallen. Then she’d awoken in the forest just outside Altador. And another thing: She _was_ a Faerie Eyrie. Then—did that mean—that she had lived in Faerieland before?
Scellea came to the fountain right in front of the Hall of Heroes. There was a Speckled Xweetok standing there, looking very lost—not just lost like a tourist, but really lost in all ways, as lost as Scellea herself felt.
“Excuse me,” the Xweetok said. Scellea stopped. “Have you seen a Speckled Xweetok around here?” said the Xweetok.
“You mean—other than you?”
“Yes. I’m looking for my sister. I wasn’t always a Speckled Xweetok. I only just became one. It’s complicated.”
“I haven’t seen anyone,” said Scellea, “but I can help you look for her.”
“Oh, thank you,” said the Xweetok. “I’m Viridri.”
“My name’s Scellea.”
“I’ve been looking for her. I used to be a Uni, so I flew all over Neopia looking for her. But I was afraid I wasn’t fast enough, so I went to the Secret Laboratory to hope it’d speed me up or something, and instead it zapped me into looking just like her. And now I can’t even fly. I just want to go home, but it’s in Meridell and I’ll have to walk or something.”
“I might be able to take you home,” said Scellea.
“Oh, could you?”
“I haven’t flown long-distance in a while, but I’ll try my best. Although I have to find someone first. A friend.”
So the three of them set off to Meridell: Scellea flying, with Viridri and the Hydruplit on her back. It was not an easy flight, and Scellea had to rest for a while in the Haunted Woods, and for another while in Faerieland—she saw it then, pink and green instead of pink and white, with cracked towers and very many vines. It really had fallen from the sky. She felt suddenly homesick for a place that was no longer real.
After almost a day, they reached the square stone tower in Meridell where Viridri lived. Mail had piled up by the door, dozens of letters and a few packages. Viridri picked it up and stared at all the envelopes.
“There’s a letter from Wonder,” she said.
“What does it say?”
Viridri opened the letter. It was very short. Scellea read over her shoulder. It said:
Dear Saph and Viridri:
Sorry I had to go. I’m traveling around the world! Don’t know when I’ll be back. But don’t worry about me!
“I guess she doesn’t know that Sapphirine left to live with our cousins in Shenkuu,” said Viridri. “So it looks like it’s just me living here. Thanks for bringing me back. Do you want to stay the night, or do you want to go home?”
“Actually,” said Scellea, before explaining her entire situation.
After hearing the story, Viridri seemed to be thinking.
“You could stay here if you want,” she finally said. “There are a lot of spare rooms in this house.”
“Oh—I wouldn’t want to impose, or anything,” said Scellea.
“You wouldn’t be.” Viridri looked down the hallway. “This house gets creepy when it’s empty. What do you say?”* * *
Scellea went to bed that night in a pink-and-purple room with a Battle Faerie painting hanging on the wall.
The Hydruplit curled up at the foot of her bed and slept too.
Tomorrow, she thought to herself, she’d give it a name.